In a recent article, published in Dispute Resolution magazine, Bettina Knoetzl highlights the importance of the cooperation between clients, legal representatives and litigation PR experts with all involved players when the media is present in the courtroom.
The presence of the media and therefore the immediate publicity surrounding an ongoing legal battle leads to a trial in the public eye before all the facts are on the table. Whether the accused is guilty or not, the reputation of the person on trial will suffer and is difficult to restore.
What needs to be considered, when dealing with the media is that
• journalists tell stories for the public from the point of view of the public
• news must be reported almost instantly to be relevant
• the general public enjoys witnessing a person’s downfall and this hunger for tragedy is what drives the media’s storytelling
Walking along the narrow line of tension between the need to seek the objective truth through a fair trial and providing information to the public along with the journalist’s protected right of freedom of speech, calls for bringing in specialists.
The Role of the Litigation PR Expert
Considering this public scrutiny, Bettina Knoetzl advocates for the utilization of a litigation PR expert who will not only support the client and the attorney during the trial but also before and after to avoid escalation of a legal dispute that is broadcast on the media. Journalists are constantly on the lookout for something new about the trial – not necessarily the truth. This is where the litigation PR expert takes over and guides the communication process. By effectively using this type of public relations expertise, the media can be used as an opportunity rather than a pillory.